A defective or malfunctioning part can be the cause of an automobile accident. In such cases, the manufacturer of the defective or malfunctioning part will be liable for the accident under the theory of product liability.
The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 provides for minimum automobile/vehicle standards of safety to guard the public against “unreasonable risks of accidents” and “unreasonable risk of death or injury . . . there is always a possibility of getting into accidents.” The law established an agency, now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to promulgate standards and instigate product recalls when necessary. Under the 1966 act, the NHTSA has established varied vehicle safety requirements and has stimulated a large number of specific model recalls.
The vehicle manufacturer can also recall the vehicle without any order or directions from the NHTSA.
The NHTSA releases regular updates of vehicle and vehicle parts that have been recalled and defect associated with the vehicle or the vehicle part.
If the NHTSA orders a recall or the manufacturer decides to recall a vehicle model, the manufacturer is required to file a report. This report is a public document. In the report, the manufacturer must explain the defect that resulted in the decision to recall taken by the manufacturer or made the NHTSA order a recall and also the major incidents that resulted in the recall being issued. The report must also specify the number of vehicles being recalled, the time frame to complete the recall and how the manufacturer intends to rectify the defect.
If a vehicle is recalled, the manufacturer must inform the owners of the vehicles being recalled. The manufacturer must take all possible steps to contact the owners including searching for the owners using the database available with the Department of Motor Vehicles and records available with their distributors. The manufacturer has an obligation to provide free remedy to all affect owners including those who haven’t received the notification of the recall from the manufacturer.
If you want to know whether a particular vehicle model or part has been recall or you want more information about a particular recall, you can contact the NHTSA. You can also contact the NHTSA to report safety issues.